Prison Officers supervise and control the activities of inmates in prisons and other correctional institutions.

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job. Around half of workers have a Certificate III/IV. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

Tasks

  • observing the conduct and behaviour of prisoners to prevent disturbances and escapes
  • inspecting and maintaining the security of locks, window bars, grilles, doors and gates
  • supervising prisoners during work assignments, recreational periods, sporting activities and meals
  • assisting with the implementation of education, rehabilitation and other programs organised for prisoners
  • searching prisoners and cells for weapons, drugs and other contraband items
  • patrolling assigned areas and reporting breaches of rules, unsatisfactory attitudes and prisoner adjustment problems
  • requisitioning prisoners' clothing, toiletries, reading material and other allowable items
  • supervising prisoners in transit between courts, prisons and other facilities

Job Titles

  • Prison Officer
  • Prison Officer (also called Correctional Officer)

    Specialisations: Custodial Officer

Fast Facts

  • $1,452 Weekly Pay
  • 16,300 workers Employment Size
  • Strong Future Growth
  • Lower skill Skill level rating
  • Lower unemployment Unemployment
  • 95.7% Full-Time Full-Time Share
  • 38.2 hours Average full-time
  • 43 years Average age
  • 33.8% female Gender Share

The number of Prison Officers is about the same as 5 years ago and is expected to grow strongly over the next 5 years:
from 16,300 in 2018 to 17,700 by 2023.
Job openings can come from new jobs being created, but most come from turnover (workers leaving).
There are likely to be around 11,000 job openings over 5 years (that's about 2,200 a year).

  • Size: This is a medium sized occupation.
  • Unemployment: Unemployment was below average in 2017.
  • Location: Prison Officers work in most regions of Australia.
  • Industries: Most work in the Public Administration and Safety industry.
  • Earnings: Full-time workers earn around $1,452 per week (higher than the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • Full-time: Most work full-time (95.7%, much higher than the all jobs average of 68.4%) showing part-time work may be hard to find.
  • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 38.2 hours per week at work (compared to the all jobs average of 40.0 hours).
  • Age: The average age is 43 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years).
  • Gender: 33.8% of workers are female (compared to the all jobs average of 46.7%).

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2018 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2023.
YearNumber of Workers
200810000
200914100
201012100
201114400
201213200
201315900
201418000
201514900
201616800
201725300
201816300
202317700

Weekly Earnings

Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)

Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
EarningsPrison OfficersAll Jobs Average
Full-Time Earnings14521230

Main Industries

Main Employing Industries (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Public Administration and Safety98.4
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services0.7
Administrative and Support Services0.5
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services0.4

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StatePrison OfficersAll Jobs Average
NSW31.431.6
VIC21.626.2
QLD18.119.7
SA14.06.7
WA8.010.8
TAS0.92.0
NT4.61.1
ACT1.41.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketPrison OfficersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-190.6-5.25.2
20-248.6-9.99.9
25-3418.2-23.623.6
35-4425.5-21.721.7
45-5428.1-20.820.8
55-599.3-8.88.8
60-645.3-6.06.0
65 and Over4.3-4.04.0

Education Level

Highest Level of Education (% Share)

Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Type of QualificationPrison OfficersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate5.1-8.68.6
Bachelor degree0-17.917.9
Advanced Diploma/Diploma13.7-10.110.1
Certificate III/IV60-18.918.9
Year 124-18.718.7
Years 11 & 1017.1-17.717.7
Below Year 100-8.18.1

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job.
Around half of workers have a Certificate III/IV. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

Before starting a course, check it will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need.

  • Compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes on the QILT website.
  • Compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes on the My Skills website.
  • You might be interested in Correctional Services VET training pathways on the AAPathways website.

The course listings on this page are provided by Good Education Group.

Employers look for Prison Officers who are caring, compassionate and empathetic and can communicate clearly with a diverse range of people.

Knowledge

These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

  1. Public Safety and Security

    95% Important

    Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.

  2. Law and Government

    77% Important

    How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.

  3. English Language

    76% Important

    English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

  4. Clerical

    69% Important

    Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.

  5. Administration and Management

    68% Important

    Planning and coordination of people and resources.

Occupational Information Network
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 33-3012.00 - Correctional Officers and Jailers.

Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

Activities

These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.

  1. Getting Information

    92% Important

    Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

  2. Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Staff

    85% Important

    Giving information to supervisors, co-workers, and staff by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

  3. Documenting/Recording Information

    85% Important

    Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

  4. Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others

    83% Important

    Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving conflicts, and negotiating with people.

  5. Checking Compliance with Standards

    81% Important

    Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

Occupational Information Network
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 33-3012.00 - Correctional Officers and Jailers.

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